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An Introduction to “Checking-In” with Foursquare

Location-based marketing allows direct interaction with your guests through social media while they are at your location.

Check In With Foursquare

Foursquare launched in early 2009 with limited availability in only 100 worldwide metro areas. In January of 2011, they eclipsed 1.2 million check-ins per week(1). Foursquare allows users to share their location with friends by “checking in” via a smartphone app or by text message. Points are awarded for checking in at various venues. Users can choose to post check-ins to their Twitter and Facebook account, notifying their social network and sharing your business name to all of their friends! By checking in a certain number of times, or in different locations, users can collect virtual badges. In addition, users who have checked in the most times at a certain venue will be crowned “Mayor” until someone surpasses their number. Various venues have embraced Foursquare, and offer special deals to users who are “mayors”.

Claim your Foursquare Listing

The first order of business is to claim or create your Foursquare listing. Even though you may be just learning about Foursquare, one of your customers may have already “added” your location to Foursquare. To find out, visit, create a free account, and search for your company. It’s possible that you may find more than one listing, so be sure you claim the listing with the proper physical address, category, and highest number of check-ins (with priority in that order).

Create a Check-In Special

Creating a special is very important, and there are several types of Specials you can choose from. Take a look at the list below, and think about which offer would be the most appealing to your customer base – without hurting the bottom line. Remember, each check-in could potentially be seen by hundreds of people through your customer’s social media network of friends, fans and followers.

  • Friends Special: You set the minimum threshold for a group of friends you’d like to reward for visiting your business together, and the Special is only redeemed if that many friends check in (based on a user’s Foursquare friends)
  • Swarm Special: You set a minimum threshold for a group of foursquare users you’d like to reward for checking in during the same 3-hour window, and the Special is only redeemed if that many people check in. Swarms can only unlock once per day venue.
  • Flash Special: Just like a flash sale, this Special runs out. Set the number of Specials you want to allow to be unlocked per day, and it’s first-come, first serve. After that, no more Specials for the day.
  • Newbie Special: This Special rewards users only on their first check in at your venue.
  • Check-In Special: These Specials are available to customers on every check-in, or based on a variety of available conditions you specify.
  • Mayor Special: The Foursquare Mayor is the most frequent visitor to your venue over the past 60 days.
  • Loyalty Special: There are a few different ways to use Loyal Specials.
    • Like a “punch card” allowing customers to redeem a Special every X times they check in
    • One-time reward, for checking in X times total
    • Reward loyalty over a given time period, for X visits within Y days

Now that you’ve customized your foursquare listing and added a special offer, your first check-in special will be redeemed soon! Make sure you talk to each member of your staff so they are aware of the message you want them to give each customer who unlocks your new special, as well as how they will process the redemption.